Affluent Oppose Effluent

Two RVs—among other vehicles— sit parked on the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway near Las Tunas Beach in Malibu around sunset in April 2019.

Reports of sewage dumping on Pacific Coast Highway are being investigated by The Malibu Times after complaints from nearby residents. The newspaper received word that RVs parked oceanside near Tuna Canyon were seen extending sewage hoses into the Pacific. 

For their part, local agencies seemed unaware of the issue when asked about their response.

The Malibu Times spoke to a resident who asked not to be identified. 

The twenty-year Big Rock resident said he has noticed more RVs, vans and cars encroaching into Malibu the past few months for overnight parking, especially in the undeveloped stretch from Topanga to Big Rock. Nightly, he claimed, there were between 10 and 20 vehicles that were not there before. But that’s not the troublesome part of his complaint. 

“One of the things that concerns me is when I go standup paddling at the crack of dawn, I’ve seen—on multiple occasions—people with their sewage lines draping them over the rocks and into the ocean,” he described. “I was shocked when I saw this. I almost fell off my standup paddle board. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve seen it get increasingly worse, almost by the day.”

The paddle boarder said he does not want the pristine stretch of PCH turned into a campground, adding, “You’ve seen PCH near Coastline Drive with all those RVs? So, in a couple of months, they won’t be allowed to park there anymore. The people that park there know they have to go. I think, slowly, they’re gravitating towards Malibu. They’re the same crappy little RVs. I know people in Pacific Palisades that are fighting against it.”

Various community members in Sunset Mesa claimed overnight campers have brought trash and crime to the area, including prostitution. When asked if the witness tried to capture any crimes or sewage dumping on camera, he replied, “No, because I’m on my standup paddle board. I’m wearing shorts and that’s it. I don’t have my cell phone with me.”

One resident claimed he heard the sewage spill topic on an LA-area radio station recently. But trying to report it to authorities went nowhere, he griped. 

“I’ve contacted the sheriffs and they said that if there’s no sign posted there’s really nothing they can do,” he said. “I’ve asked them whose jurisdiction is it and they said they thought it was Caltrans’. I called Caltrans and they said they thought it was LA Harbor and I called LA Harbor and they thought it was Malibu. I contacted Malibu and they thought it was the sheriff, so we’re kind of running around in circles. It’s frustrating.

“We’re going to have the same problem as our neighbor, Pacific Palisades, that they’re having a hard time getting rid of,” he continued. “It’s going to get worse and worse if we don’t do anything. We’re going to get all that traffic—all the RVs parked there will come up here. I highly doubt they’re going to pay for a dumping station. It doesn’t make sense that they would do that. They have easy access to the ocean and nobody will notice except for early morning SUPers [standup paddle boarders].”

The Malibu Times reached out to various local agencies to find answers to residents’ concerns.

Caltrans District 7 Public Information Officer Marc Bischoff said he was not aware of any complaints of that kind, but explained how Caltrans’ jurisdiction works in the area.

“To my knowledge we haven’t had any complaints,” Bischoff said. “If there are vehicles, RVs or others, parking illegally, that’s really a law enforcement issue and it should be reported to whatever law enforcement agency that is. If there is damage to the roadway to report, there is a CT customer service [website]. If there’s sewage spillage, that’s something we would look into.” Complaints can be issued through the Caltrans customer service request department website

“Click on that link,” Bischoff added. “It’s a very user-friendly website and go through the drop-downs. There’s even a map where they can point. And once they do that, a ticket will be assigned to the proper division and they’ll receive an email response right away with the ticket number for tracking and one of our customer service reps will call them back. Anything impacting the roadway we’re responsible for, we’d have to follow up on.”

The Malibu Times also spoke with Lost Hills Sheriff’s Malibu liaison Lt. Jennifer Seetoo, who said this was the first she had heard about alleged sewage dumping in the area.  

“I don’t know anything about it, but I’m am going to look into it,” she said.

Malibu City Manager Reva explained, “We cannot fight them any longer.” That’s due to a court decision that allows homeless to park overnight if there is no shelter close by. But sewage dumping, she emphasized, “absolutely is not allowed.” 

Reports can be phoned into city hall at 310.456.2489 ext. 311.